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Top 5 smartphones (February 2013 edition)

Five of the best smartphones. Something for those who like iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
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1 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Introduction

Whenever I present a list of what I believe are the best smartphones and tablets, I invariably get comments from readers who feel that it is artificial and arbitrary for me to break down devices by operating system. They feel that the 'best' device should come down to the hardware, and not the operating system it runs.

OK then, let's do that.

Here are five of the best smartphones currently on offer.

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2 of 6 Apple.

Apple iPhone 5

In my opinion—and in the opinion of millions of buyers ever quarter—the iPhone 5 is the king of the smartphones.

Not only is the iPhone 5 a solid, reliable smartphone, but it is backed by a massive ecosystem of apps, and an equally robust ecosystem of physical hardware in the form of docks, camera accessories, toys, and much more.

  • iOS 6
  • 1.3 GHz dual-core Apple A6 processor
  • 4-inch 640 × 1136 pixels (326 ppi) display
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.2MP front camera
  • 16/32/64GB internal storage
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3 of 6 Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is Android smartphone those people with large hands to hold it with, and large pockets to keep it in.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II really is a solid handset packed with an array of high-end features. It even comes with the S Pen that can be used to copy text, crop images, and even to share content.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)
  • 1.6 GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor
  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.9MP front camera
  • 16/32/64GB internal storage
  • microSD slot 
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4 of 6 Google.

Google Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is the smartphone that Google thinks Android should be loaded on.

One of the downsides to the Nexus 4 is that it doesn't come with LTE support despite having a supporting integrated modem. According to LG, the manufacturer of the Nexus 4, the LTE modem requires a signal amplifier and filter to work, and these components have been omitted to keep the cost of the handset down.

Despite this, the Nexus 4 is a solid, well-made Android handset.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2)
  • 1.5 GHz quad-core Krait processor
  • 4.7-inch WXGA IPS display
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • 8/16GB internal storage
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5 of 6 Motorola.

Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD

The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD is Motorola's latest high-end smartphone and it brings both a high-definition 4.7-inch display and a massive 3,300 mAh battery, good enough for 32-hours of use.

It's also tough, constructed form DuPont Kevlar fibre and Corning Gorilla Glass, and features water-repellent nanoparticles to shield against water, even on the internal circuit boards.

The only downside to this handset is that it is powered by Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," but an upgrade to Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" should be available before the end of the year.

  • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) but an update is on the way
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz processor
  • 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD Display, 720p (720x1280)
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera
  • 1.3 MP front-facing with 720p HD video capture
  • 1080p HD video capture
  • 32 GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot 
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6 of 6 Nokia.

Nokia Lumia 920

It's easy to think that the smartphone market is stitched up between iOS and Android, but it's not. Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system is a small but influential player, and the new Lumia's from Nokia are a solid basis for taking the platform to the next level.

The Lumia 920 is a solid piece of kit. Undoubtedly one of its strong points is the PureView technology camera featuring a Carl Zeiss lens, and a wireless charging station that means no more having to plug in cables into the handset.

  • Windows Phone 8
  • 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor
  • 4.5-inch IPS LED, 1280 × 768 pixels (332 ppi)
  • 8.7 MP rear-facing camera
  • 1.3 MP front-facing with 720p HD video capture
  • 1080p HD video capture
  • 32 GB internal storage 

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